Kobo Writing Life Podcast

Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo Writing Life, interviews, author, podcaster, film-maker, photographer and audio-book producer, J. Daniel Sawyer. In the interview, Mark and Daniel discuss:

  • Dan’s publishing production schedule which include 5 books currently in the queue, 8 mysteries in a single series (The Clarke Lantham Mysteries) 6 science fiction books spread across two different series (The Antithesis Progression & Suave Rob’s Awesome Adventures) and stand-alones, a couple of short story collections and two long form writer’s guides (Making Tracks: A Writer’s Guide to Audiobooks and How to Produce Them and Throwing Lead: A Writer’s Guide to Firearms and the People Who Use Them)
  • How four of the books in Sawyer’s Clarke Lantham series started off as short stories, but then “escaped” into full sized novels
  • Dan’s book Idea’s Inc. that was inspired by science fiction legend Harlan Ellison’s snarky response to where he gets his ideas from.
  • His goal to write 3000 words each and every day
  • Dan’s Nanowrimo Daily Podcast project Nanowrimo Every Month
  • The three pillars of writing: Craft, Business, Law
  • Examples of incorrect weapon use in stories, which Sawyer addresses in his book: Throwing Lead: A Writer’s Guide to Firearms and the People Who Use Them
  • How poorly researched use of something like weapons can kick a knowing reader out of the story
  • The differences in weapon terminology use, such as a clip and a magazine, an automatic and a semi-automatic
  • The Weaver stance, originally created in the 1950’s and how it remains one of a number of popular shooting stances in handgun training today because it taught police officers how to shoot quickly, accurately and without accidents
  • Why the “clicking” of a gun when it is out of ammunition is an inaccurate Hollywood convention when it comes to most modern firearms
  • Why Doc Brown would NOT have survived the AK-47 attack in the movie Back to the Future, even with a Kevlar vest on
  • Why being shot typically won’t send someone flying backwards or even stop them while rushing forward
  • Dan’s life-long passion for theatre-radio and audio-books
  • How Scott Sigler inspired Dan into podcasting his fiction.
  • A look at the minimum standard equipment an author would need in order to produce their own quality audio book
  • How Dan has created full-cast / multi-voice audio productions
  • The rough number of hours it takes to produce each hour of finished audio product and the differences between single narrator recordings and full-cast productions
  • The importance of learning from one’s own blunders while finding your way through the business aspect of writing


Daniel Sawyer’s Website

Twitter:  @dsawyer       

Direct download: EP_056_JDanielSawyer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:36pm PDT

In this episode, Christine takes you behind the scenes at Kobo to hear from colleagues on five different Kobo teams who each play a different role in getting eBooks to customers and analyzing data post-publication. Tune in to hear from:

Chris, KWL Development

  • “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our users to publish their content, and then after that do as much as possible to drive the success of those published titles.”
  • How does the dev team manage to wrangle KWL’s seemingly never-ending list of features and ideas we want to implement? He has to balance new projects with maintaining and testing the current platform, and evaluating the necessity and value of each new idea.
  • With each new to-do item, he needs to collaborate with the rest of the broad Kobo team to make sure we can support these changes from a data and software perspective.

Sarah, Content Analytics

  • Why and how you should measure the halo effect of promotions and price changes.
  • Learning what prices sell well in different countries - certain geos are more price-sensitive than others, and you can adjust your territory pricing accordingly. For example, US and UK shoppers are used to paying less for eBooks, while readers in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are more willing to pay more.

Ben, QA & Content Display

  • Ben's main responsibility involves seeing content coming in and deciding whether or not it's ready to go for sale to customers. When the answer is no, his team works to problem solve, find bugs, and support fixes.
  • Common errors found during the QA process: all content lumped in chapter 1; mismatched file uploaded for the title (ex Book 2 in a series instead of Book 1); missing or out of order chapters; low image quality.
  • Ben's favourite QA lingo. Aren't you dying to know what an obfuscated font is?

Patricia, Publisher Operations

  • The detective work of PubOps, who are always working to answer a question from a publisher, another internal team, or retail partner. Why hasn't a price changed? Why isn't a book for sale? Why has this eBook failed QA testing?
  • Why Patricia likes projects that involve launching in a new territory - a large cross-functional team basically gets to recreate Kobo, and rebuild the catalogue, in a short period of time.

Jared, Big Data

  • Reading data that Kobo collects and analyzes. How we're currently using it for our readers - to show them patterns in how they read, when they read, and help them set reading goals.
  • How we hope to share it with authors and publishers to help improve content and sales.


Do you have a question about what it takes to run a digital retail company that we didn't answer here? Leave a comment on our blog at www.kobowritinglife.com

Thanks for listening!

Direct download: Episode_55.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:41am PDT